On Thursday, the North Texas Municipal Water District board of directors approved up to $20,000 for staff to reimburse affected homeowners from the 72-inch pipeline break Aug. 30 at the 4500 block of Crystal Mountain Drive.
The $20,000 would cover homeowners’ displacement costs such as lodging, transportation and meals.
The pipeline was installed in 1980, designed by engineering firm Freese and Nichols, and was expected to have a life expectancy of 50-100 years, according to NTMWD. The cause of the break remains unknown.
NTMWD has hired third-party firms to conduct a forensic investigation of the break. The investigation is expected to take months to complete, according to NTMWD.
Bill Helfand, an attorney for the Texas Water Conservation Association (TWCA) Risk Management Fund, to which NTMWD is a member of, was also present to discuss governmental responsibilities and liabilities regarding insurance claims for the homeowners affected.
Helfand stated that the water district as a government entity can only be liable for property damage caused by the wrongful act or negligence of an employee.
Helfand said homeowners are encouraged to continue working with their insurance providers to seek coverage.
During the public comment portion of meeting, several affected homeowners spoke about the extensive damage to their homes and ask to the board to work them to help pay for damages.
Some homeowners said their homeowners insurance will not cover events of this nature, and they are not eligible for flood insurance because the neighborhood is not in a floodplain.
Pamela Thompson lives in Wylie, but her parents were affected by the pipeline break. She said they are retirees whose insurance has denied their claim.
“I would ask the board to not look at how to avoid assisting the families who were affected but how we can move forward and assist in whatever ways possible,” Thompson said. “I do believe in times like these we can pull together, and I ask that these families not be forgotten and that measures are taken so healing can begin.”
In a statement, NTMWD backed the TWCA Risk Management Fund’s reasoning for denial of coverage.
“We recognize and sympathize with the hardships this water line break has caused, but the district by law can’t spend public funds for private benefit unless certain exceptions are met,” the statement read. “We encourage affected homeowners to notify their insurance provider of this determination and seek their assistance with coverage.”